The SoulFire Project
The law of attraction states that we bring into our lives the energy that we give out. And so it goes – just as we set out to explore the world of social enterprise and sustainable living, everywhere we go we seem to crash into exciting people on their own social missions. Take the Soul Fire Project.
It was on the chicken bus from David to Boquette where we ran into Alexis.
By Central American standards it wasn’t a long journey from Bocas, only 5 hours, but we decided to buy a bottle of local Abuelo rum to even out the journey a little. By the time we had changed buses in David we were onto bottle number two and getting into a bit of a loud conversation – some might say argument – about something we had experienced on the road earlier (see previous post – two views from the mountain top). The bus stopped and two backpackers walked on – they had clearly swapped shirts – he was wearing a lilac blouse that barely grazed his navel, and she was wearing an oversized lumberjack shirt. With a guitar slung on his back he made a beeline straight to the only two English speakers he saw – or perhaps it was the only bottle of rum he saw – “I’m playing at Mike’s Grill in Boquette tonight at 7, you guys gotta come”. And that was it. They both sat down, he pulled out his guitar, and the four of us sang our Spanglish songs at the back of the chicken bus, passing out the rum between verses.
Alexis was travelling with a group called the Soul Fire Project – led by a 20 something American called Cooper.
The project describe themselves as an artistically self sustainable mobile community – which basically means they are a bunch of travelling musicians who drive around on a vegetable oil powered bus, spreading the message of permaculture, appropriated technologies and bio construction with the people and communities they meet along the way.
As we happily discovered later on at Mike’s Grill, their band is simply fabulous. As with most social responsible enterprises, they spend more time trying to generate revenue with their music than with actually focusing on the reason they exist, though as we pointed out to Cooper, 20% of their time is still more than zero.
Speaking to Cooper was really inspiring – he’s a young guy with a strong vision. Whilst we didn’t necessarily agree with all of his politics, his passion was beautiful and got us both thinking about the direction in which our own enterprise will follow. Take plastic for example – it is everywhere -in the shops, in the streets, on the road, in the trees, on the beach… Whilst we both actively try to reduce our consumption of everyday plastic, the constant looks of surprise we get at they markets when we refuse a plastic bag illustrates just how unknown the mantra of “reduce, reuse, recycle” is in Central America. Clearly education is the key to changing attitudes and behaviours and for sure education is something that our mission will focus on. But it is also sometimes hard to see where to start, and to discern the difference between what can be changed and what should be accepted. If you agree with John Elkington the power of the “unreasonable person” is that they see the things that do no work and through the principle that everything can be changed, find simple solutions to correct the imbalance. Everything requires a change agent, and through education those change agents can come from within communities instead of being constantly driven from the outside. As Richard Branson says: we have no super hero, we have only our own ingenuity to fall back on. And so whether we look to personal change or something broader, the solution it seems can always be found from within.